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Old 10-20-2009, 03:34 AM   #21
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

Now smif's old work is just a play with levels and filter>sketch>stamp and clean in Photoshop. I still find smif art better than GURPS 4e Magic's Poser + Photoshop Filter 5 minute art.

In thick line or B/W art, ramon perez (which SJgames got a few times) is one of the best for me. His work for paladium is makes me want to buy palladium sans the content.

With all the artists in deviant art showing off their portfolio and working up for a long track record, I'm surprised the price for the art services for a given quality hasnt gone down to levels that SJgames can afford much off.
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Old 10-20-2009, 06:06 AM   #22
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

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Originally Posted by MIB 1473 View Post
The biggest problem with Smif is that his style is incompatible with other artists'. It's hard to put his piece on the same page with another artists' without them clashing.
I fully do agree with this. And this is certainly the reason that makes GURPS Line Editors choose other artists for GURPS 4.

Smif has a very specific style. Either you like it, either you don't; you rarely find it average. This is the drawback of artists who really do art (i.e. who don't just make illustrations).
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Old 10-20-2009, 07:21 AM   #23
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

I liked Smif's art when I saw the illustrations he did for the Compendiums for first time. And before, in Celtic Myth, I believe. I wouldn't anchor him into the Cyberpunk genre alone.

It's a bit neutral to me, and I see that as good thing regarding illustrating GURPS books. The problem is, it's all Black & White, while 4e features/d color art. Now, PDF releases rarely include color art. I would like some new B/W Smif pieces, instead other illustrators as Baxa. Smif style is strong and dynamic and serves its purpose, or that's my feeling. I can't speak, however, about his art in Vehicles, Car Wars and such, because I don't have these books.

But after all, I prefer pencil drawings with some ink, and oil paintings (or something close to these results), but specially for illustrating the fantastic genre; regarding other genres I'm usually satisfied more modestly: B/W illustrations will make the work for me.

The problem with RPG manuals featuring many color illustrations is... well, some of them are so "flamboyant" that they can be really distracting and annoying: I found this happening a lot seeing pages of D&D 3 art, and the thing still is happening even in Pathfinder (however, some pieces are enough good, and dynamic, too... but others are a bit too prone to "silly exaggerations" = unnecessary flamboyant and cartoonish at times). My preferred style is, I think, more akin to a mix between Larry Elmore and Frazetta. Or simply John Howe.
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Old 10-20-2009, 09:24 AM   #24
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

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The problem with RPG manuals featuring many color illustrations is... well, some of them are so "flamboyant" that they can be really distracting and annoying: I found this happening a lot seeing pages of D&D 3 art, and the thing still is happening even in Pathfinder (however, some pieces are enough good, and dynamic, too... but others are a bit too prone to "silly exaggerations" = unnecessary flamboyant and cartoonish at times). My preferred style is, I think, more akin to a mix between Larry Elmore and Frazetta. Or simply John Howe.
To my mind, flamboyant pictures are good for heroic and epic games... like D&D.

GURPS is more realistic, even when dealing with fantasy and, so requires more realistic/serious/dramatic pictures.

Larry Elmore, Frazetta and John Howe are very great. But they certainly are too expensive for a roleplaying game like GURPS!
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Old 10-20-2009, 09:36 AM   #25
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

I always really liked Smif's work. He has always been an inspiration to me. One of the best things about his work was (is?) consistency—he did a lot of work, in what was probably a very short period, to a very consistent level of quality and style. Personally, I could never come up with compositional ideas quickly enough to be as prolific as he was throughout 3e—a failing of mine. (I know, personally, how they tend(ed?) to dump a lot of work on you in a short period of time.) I can totally understand, from a production standpoint, why he got so much work from SJG.

That being said, I think the best-illustrated books from 3e were the historical ones that used a lot of woodcuttings and old paintings and whatnot—it had a far better feel to me. I've seen that trend continued somewhat in 4e, nevermind the Basic Set, and I hope it continues. But I do miss Smif a bit.
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Old 10-20-2009, 10:47 AM   #26
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

I really liked Smifs art - black and white illustration is definitely under appreciated. I think part of why his art style is so polarizing is that most people are really only exposed to black and white illustration on the comics page of the newspaper, which is pretty tightly tied in to the "use as little ink as possible or we'll cut you from the paper" style.

I especially liked that SJG recognized that they were producing black and white books, and selected an artist who works happily within those restrictions. I've seen RPG books where the art was obviously just desaturated before printing, and the results are inevitably terrible.
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Old 10-20-2009, 10:57 AM   #27
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

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I really liked Smifs art - black and white illustration is definitely under appreciated. I think part of why his art style is so polarizing is that most people are really only exposed to black and white illustration on the comics page of the newspaper, which is pretty tightly tied in to the "use as little ink as possible or we'll cut you from the paper" style.
Maybe for some, but I'm used to William Morris woodcuts, Gustav Doré illustrations, pre-WWII newspaper cartoons, and the kinds of architectural diagrams and renderings you'll find in the earlier part of the previous century, none of which can be accused of being sparing on any account, and I didn't care for Smif either.

ETA: Of course, even if such a person existed today, I doubt a small game company could afford the services of a Doré, or even a Herrimann.
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Old 10-20-2009, 12:57 PM   #28
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

I'm somewhat with Jeffr0 on this one. Smif did a lot of stuff for GURPS 3e and Car Wars. I liked some of it, particularly the Cyberpunk stuff. Other illustrations just seemed kinda of cheesy. However, art was not the primary reasons for purchasing GURPS books.

Smif's good pieces made the game come alive, just like good pieces should. His bad pieces weren't so offense that I did a doubletake, unlike some other game artists. White Wolf had a lot of art that made me wonder why it was there in their games and I'm not a big robot guy so I never got Palladium stuff.

For black-and-white game art, Smif was a step below Erol Otus and the other great artists for TSR at the time when they did black-and-white line art and still told stories with that art in D&D modules. My favorite black-and-white game art now is by Brendon and Brian Fraim, who did a great deal of the art for HackMaster 4e and who have made two awesome, three good and one average commission piece for me. The Fraims were doing old school some 20 years later for the old-school homage game called HackMaster.

For me, Smif is early GURPS and despite some of his piece being lame, they bring back good memories. Just like the Fraim illustrations bring back good memories of HackMaster. ..
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Old 10-20-2009, 04:48 PM   #29
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MIB 1473 View Post
[snip] It's hard to put his piece on the same page with another artists' without them clashing.

He must have been very reliable, but some of his work looked as if it was rushed to meet a deadline. SJG may have used too much of his stuff.

Aesthetically, my biggest issue with Smif was his overuse of words. Every vehicle needs a logo, every weapon needs a name, every t-shirt has to advertise something, etc. It's distracting and often feels inappropriate.
Me Too on all of the above. His work is very distinctive and hit-and-miss for my personal taste, but I find it to be less of an issue when he's done the whole book and isn't clashing with other styles.

On positive notes: It is very distinctive (which also has its benefits), he did exactly what I had pictured for one of the characters that I wrote for the IN Liber Servitorum (Togaal if you're curious), and the text / brand name habit goes very well with the cyberpunk work IMHO.
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Old 10-20-2009, 05:52 PM   #30
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

Quote:
Originally Posted by nik1979 View Post
Now smif's old work is just a play with levels and filter>sketch>stamp and clean in Photoshop. I still find smif art better than GURPS 4e Magic's Poser + Photoshop Filter 5 minute art.

In thick line or B/W art, ramon perez (which SJgames got a few times) is one of the best for me. His work for paladium is makes me want to buy palladium sans the content.

With all the artists in deviant art showing off their portfolio and working up for a long track record, I'm surprised the price for the art services for a given quality hasnt gone down to levels that SJgames can afford much off.
I big time agree with everything here. Couldn't have posted better myself.
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